Review for Wade Hampton

Reviewer Score:


Wade Hampton Golf Club – A Fazio Design Like No Other

Wade Hampton is one of those courses that has been on my “must
play” list for quite a while for several reasons: First, I have played a
plethora of Tom Fazio courses all over the country that were designed at
different phases of his career, and I definitely felt I was missing out having
not seen what many have touted as Mr. Fazio’s best work. Second, of all the Top
100 ranked courses in the USA, Wade Hampton is one that flies under the radar,
creating intrigue, and I love to see great golf courses that aren’t talked
about ad nauseam. Similar to other highly ranked courses, such as Yeamans Hall,
Crystal Downs, Old Town Club and Gozzer Ranch, you just don’t hear too many
people talking about Wade Hampton.

My trip to Wade Hampton took place right in the middle of the
Covid-19 virus pandemic. The relevance of mentioning this is that I live in
South Florida and under normal circumstances I would have been able to take a
short flight to Atlanta and then a manageable 2.5-hour drive to Wade Hampton.
However, being extra cautious, I decided to plan a short vacation in nearby
South Carolina and decided that driving the whole way would be the practical
choice, which meant an 11-hour trip each way.

Similar to designs by Coore & Crenshaw or Pete Dye, you can
almost always tell when you are playing a Tom Fazio golf course. However, when
you’ve played countless courses by a single architect, it becomes harder and
harder to be “wowed” and genuinely distinguish one course from another unless
there is something unique about the design or land. One of the hardest things
an architect faces when designing a golf course is creating variety and
interest for all 18 holes while building a golf course that is still cohesive.
Few courses accomplish this rare feat and those that do are consistently and
deservingly the top ranked. Of all the Fazio designed courses I have been
fortunate enough to play, the gold standard for me has long been Shadow Creek
in Las Vegas. Nearly every single hole at Shadow is memorable and special.
Shadow is one of those courses that should be on everyone’s to-play list – it
ranks inside my personal top 25 in the United States. There are other excellent
Fazio courses that I find memorable as great overall experiences such as Hudson
National, Galloway National, The Summit Club, Wynn Golf Club, The Estancia
Club, Black Diamond Ranch, Whisper Rock Upper Course, Emerald Dunes, Jupiter
Hills Club, Pablo Creek, and Caves Valley. The difference between all of these
and Shadow Creek is that there are far more individual holes at Shadow Creek
that stand out as special and memorable with an overall outstanding 18-hole
experience. I have yet to play Gozzer Ranch, Congaree, The Alotian Club,and
Frederica, but now after playing Wade Hampton I have seen all the other
well-known Fazio designs.

Now that you have the backstory of why the standard was set so
high for my visit to Wade Hampton I’m going to share with you why I titled this
review “A Fazio Design Like No Other”. I had the privilege of playing my round
with Wade Hampton’s Director of Golf, Pete Mathews, and a passionate 20-year
member named Steve. Both had a wealth of information on the history of Wade
Hampton to share with me and I could not have had a more enjoyable time unless
the late founder William McKee or Tom Fazio himself were in our group.

Before I share some specific hole highlights allow me to leave
out the dramatic build up and give you the bottom line right now, Wade Hampton
is nothing short of an exceptional golf course and experience. Thanks to the
incredible vision and execution by the late founder, William McKee, there is
not a single detail overlooked at Wade Hampton from the moment you arrive until
the second you leave. While the course was built in 1987 and the greens were
renovated in 2017, you would think the entire club is brand new, that is just
how pristine everything is at this incredibly well-run slice of golfing heaven.
The layout of the property is perfect. A nice putting green sits near the clubhouse
and it takes a decent length golf cart ride to get to the practice range,
practice pitching greens, and a second putting green. A short walk from the
practice area brings you to the first tee. Before you walk onto the tee box to
start your round, you can’t miss a lifelike statue of Mr. McKee – everyone is
reminded who made it all possible each and every time they get to play this
course. Mr. Mathews gave me great insight into Mr. McKee’s high-energy
personality and driving passion to live life to the fullest, and he made sure
Wade Hampton is one of the best golf experiences in the world.

William McKee statue - Wade Hampton Golf Club

Wade Hampton has a routing and flow that feels like it was just
meant to be this way. One of its unusual features is that, to my knowledge, it’s
one of only two courses ranked in the top 50 on any list that both starts and
ends with a par-5 {Shoreacres in Illinois is the other}. I think that’s a super
cool and distinguishing feature. For a good golfer, a par-5 is a great hole to
start and finish your round with because every good golfer mentally prepares
for what should be a great birdie opportunity and most often a straightforward
par. Thus, for a good amateur golfer or a professional, Wade Hampton starts and
finishes with what should be a positive memory.

So, with that preamble, I am ready to share my journey through Wade Hampton with you. A Fazio Design Like No Other click the link to read more.

Date: July 29, 2020

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